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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blog Round-Up -- the Yarn Stash

FaveCrafts has a blog round-up each month, and this month's question is "Where do you buy your yarn?"  You'd think the answer would be simple, but I really had to think about how I go about getting yarn.  I think, initially, like most people, I go to a local yarn store or chain craft store to see what's new and FEEL it.  There's just no substitute for feeling the yarn strand between your fingers to figure out how soft or firm it is, how thick or thin it is, and how hard or easy it is going to be to work with it (someday, maybe our computer monitors will simulate sensations!). But, I have to admit, if I want to buy more of a yarn I am already familiar with, then I do get online and start searching for the cheapest price I can find (and, of course, shipping has to get factored in, but, often, you can order online and not have to pay sales tax, so it probably averages out).

Lately, I've been wanting to experiment with "yarn substitutes", and I enjoyed working with the nylon twine from the hardware store!  I read an article recently in Inside Crochet magazine about using cassette tape for crochet, so I'm looking forward to giving that a try soon, and, of course, I will report about it here :-)

Right now, I am just looking forward to having the next 2 days off from work so I can get a grip (you know, just knock out all those things still hanging over my head!)  Of course, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous in DC the next few days, so visiting the cherry blossoms will probably move to the top of the list before other things....

Today's Thought:  Rule # 11 -- Avoid foods you see advertised on TV.  Only the biggest food companies can afford to advertise on television, so whether or not the latest formulations of their products really are more healthful or not, you should try to avoid getting sucked in to the hype.  We started to count how many commercials were for processed food or chain restaurants, and the numbers were amazing.  By just paying attention, we've become more sensitive to realizing that we want something just because the jingle was catchy, not because we really think it's going to be good for us or actually tasty.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Treadmill is Speeding Up!

Ever feel like you are running in place, not getting anywhere?!  Ha, everyday, right!  I think my angst is coming from having really hunkered down to do the taxes this weekend.  Still not done, but I've got it all organized and anticipate putting the final touches and final checks on our returns and my mom's this week and getting them out, whew!

But, on a happier note, I also took a little break this morning from tax land and created a fun flower.  I'll post pix on the next post.  I'm still trying to think of a fun spring project to make use of the April yarn club offering, but I should have that whipped up by the April 15th shipment date.  And, yes, another side of the Mom Vest is done, now to tackle the back.  She gave me some fun big gold buttons that she liked from another jacket that's long gone now to use for the vest, so that's spurring me on to make the final push to finish that project.

For a techie update, as you will recall, I've been trying to figure out how to upload files to my web hosting service (check, I think...) and then make downloads available to you all (not checked off just yet).  But, I think I found a website that might help with this -- "The Blog Doctor" seems to have a lot of stuff on his site, but ironically, it takes a long time to load and all the information is pretty overwhelming.  More to come on this topic!

Today's Thought:  101 Crochet Tips in 101 Days -- the challenge is on, visit Phyllis the Crochet Guru as she works to meet it head on!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So Tired...

This has been such a slow moving week in many ways, but at least it is finally Thursday.  I just need to make it to Saturday :-)

I did get the Easter project done!  I was in the hardware store last weekend and saw this really cool nylon twine in all sorts of bright colors.  I'd say it's probably DK weight (about 11-12 wpi), and I bought a spool of hot pink.  Here are the results!

The pattern is available on my designer page on Ravelry and hopefully soon on FaveCrafts.

This weekend, the plan is to regroup, get mom's vest finally done, and design the pattern for the upcoming Yarn Club shipment!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 33 -- Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi.  Ok, that just sounds too funky, but the point really is to add some fermented foods to your diet, like yogurt, soy sauce, and sour dough bread (for those of you with more exotic tastes, sauerkraut and kimchi count too).  These foods are good sources of B12 vitamins, which you can't get from plants, and probiotics that improve digestion and the immune system.  We've been adding a scoop of plain nonfat yogurt to our plates at dinner time and have been using it instead of sour cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Big Shout Out!

I just had to put up a post today with a big shout out to my friends at FaveCrafts!  Being a part of the radio show last night was so much fun, and if you missed it, it's available for free either from the website or from iTunes!

I also want to encourage you to take a look at all the wonderful crafting projects at  They also have free crafting and recipe newsletters (I love the crochet one!) to which you can subscribe and many free eBooks ready for instant download!  Just check those out at  It's really impressive, all of the quality resources they make available.

And, stay tuned, I will be posting a special Easter crochet project with FaveCrafts later this week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Countdown Begins

Well, actually two of them -- tonight's radio show and taxes!  I really need to worry about both of them today.  In the mean time, I guess as an avoidance mechanism, I keep trying to recreate the gluten-free bread I made for mom.  I'm hoping the problem has been bad yeast because it keeps falling and getting dense in the cooling phase :-(  I am going to stop experimenting (I've been trying different flours to see if I can correct some of the taste issues from last time) and just try to recreate the original bread that came out fluffy.

Other than that, I've been enjoying the amazing weather we've been having the last few days here in DC -- sunshine and 70 degree temperatures!  Though last night, instead of working on either priority project (see above) or mom's vest (I know, I know...), I came up with crocheted chair leg socks!  I had seen a feature in Daily Candy about an Etsy seller selling knitted socks for chairs.  "How clever" I thought, then saw that she was charging $20 for a set of 4.  That seemed a little steep to me, especially since they are knitted and not crocheted (because I always think that knitters have it easier than we do ;-)  I also figured many people would just want instructions on how to do it themselves, and sure enough, I saw a posting on Ravelry seeking a crocheted version.  So, I whipped out both round and square leg versions and posted the pattern on Ravelry!  check it out!

Today's Thought:  Please tune in tonight at 7 PM EDT or listen to the archived episode of  I will be talking about "mind, body, spirit, ... and crochet!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Theme Music

I am soooooo excited -- DeAnn's gentleman friend, a professional musician, has worked up intro theme music for my podcasts!  I haven't heard a note yet, but I know it is going to be fabulous.  It was funny, there I was verbally describing what I want (not really having any idea how to properly describe it!), and DeAnn just knew!  She really gets me, which is just sooooo nice.

So, in the mean time, the radio show is this Sunday.  I've got a 10-minute segment, and I really need to think through what I want to talk about and also "tease" for the upcoming podcast, I don't want to wing it.  I've got so much I could talk about, so this is probably the perfect time to sketch out Sunday's segment and then the next few segments of the podcast.  I had really hoped to get the podcast ready so that listeners to the show would have follow-up material to go to right away, but alas, it is not to be.  I was so proud of how I managed to create a .wav file, convert it into an MP3, and then load it to my web host.  But how to create a link from here to there is where I got stuck.  But, that too shall come I'm sure :-)  If anyone's got directions or tips on how to do it, pleeeeeeeze let me know!

Ok, tonight I think I am just going to try to clear my mind, do some laundry, and maybe just make a list of the million things that need to get done!

Today's Thought:  Aw, heck, I'm too tired to think tonight.  I promise, I will do double thinking on the next post ;-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Radio Show Coming Up!!

Oooo, the countdown has begun!  I'm putting the finishing touches on my segment this Sunday on FaveCrafts Radio.  In some ways, 10 minutes can be a loooooong time; in some ways, how am I going to say everything I want to?!  FaveCrafts has set up another designer page for me:  and Caley Walsh has been blogging about the upcoming show too:

FaveCrafts Radio is a weekly radio show hosted by Tiffany Windsor with creative ideas and your favorite craft experts and celebrities. FaveCrafts Radio airs live on BlogTalkRadio on Sunday nights from 7 – 8:00 pm (ET) (6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific). Archived podcasts can be streamed directly from the website or downloaded for free through iTunes.Visit

I'm really looking forward to hearing what Mark Montano is going to talk about.  He's got a book called Big Ass Book on Home Decor, and he's going to give away 2 autographed copies during the show!

Ok, time to face the real world!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 17 -- Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans.  I think this is Mr. Pollan's way to remind you not to eat processed foods that have way too much salt, fat, and sugar in them.  Now, he also points out the human chefs in restaurants often cook with too much salt, fat, and sugar too, so he advises treating eating out as a special occasion.  I have to admit, we eat out probably at least 1 or 2 times a week, but we try to pick restaurants that we know have healthy choices and use local fresh ingredients.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fluffy Gluten-Free Bread

For those of you out there struggling with gluten allergy or intolerance, you probably are interested in the title of this post!  I've been searching around for a good bread recipe, one that mimics the lightness and fluffiness of regular bread.  Most gluten-free breads are pretty dense, and my mom's been pining for some decent bread.

I found a great site -- -- that had a recipe that I thought might work, but after reading some of the comments (like, it was too "yeast-y"), I played around with it a little bit to address the comments and to make use of the flours that I had on hand.  So, here's what I came up with:

1 package Fleischman's Rapid Rise Highly Active Yeast (I think next time I will use less than a package)
1 Tbsp agava syrup (plus, a little bit more; I think next time I will add 2 Tbsps)
1 1/2 c very warm water (I heated it on the oven until it felt uncomfortable on my pinkie, then turned it off and let it sit for maybe 30 secs, then added the yeast and agave syrup and let it sit and bubble)

1 1/2 c all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sorghum flour
2 tsps xanthan gum
1 tsp salt (I might add a little more next time)
1 Tbsp dry milk
1/8 tsp baking powder

3 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsps grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsps apple cider vinegar

I let everything come to room temperature.  First, I got the water, yeast, and agave mixture sitting aside and bubbling.  Then I mixed together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, I put in the eggs, oil, and vinegar and, with a handmixer, blended for less than a minute.  I then started to add the flour mixture into the egg mixture and beat some more until it seemed mixed but dry.  I turned the oven on to its lowest setting (which is "warm" on my oven, just below 200 degrees).  Then, I added any flour mixture left and then poured on the yeast mixture.  I then kept beating the ingredients, on the lowest speed, for about 5 minutes.  I poured the mixture into a greased Pyrex bread loaf pan (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 in.) and put it into the warm oven and let it rise in there until the bread had poofed up (about 30 to 40 minutes).  I then turned the temperature up to 350 degrees and let the bread bake until it looked golden brown (about 40 to 45 minutes).  I then turned off the oven and cracked the door open and let the bread sit in there for probably another 20 minutes at least.

It came out very fluffy and breadlike, but it did have a little bit of a yeast-y smell and taste to it.  After it cooled some more, that dissipated a little bit, but next time, I'm going to try putting a little less yeast and a little more sweet and salt.  Mom liked it, so I felt like I really accomplished something (and, yes, the vest is still not yet done, but the right side is!)

Today's Thought:  If you have sensitivity to MSG, then xanthan gum might not be for you!  Apparently, the process of making xanthan gum releases acids similar to those in MSG, so a number of people can't tolerate xanthan gum.  Guar gum might be a substitute.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just Had to Tell You

A supplemental post today -- there's a new book out there by Daniel Pink called Drive that's so worth picking up.  He talks about the keys to motivating people, especially in the workplace, and it's NOT money!  Check out his 20-minute video on also.  And, he's pretty easy on the eyes too ;-)

Blogging Blues

Dah, I still can't get the blog posts to automatically feed to my Facebook fan page!  Well, nothing like a challenge to drive you crazy...

I'm happy to report that it drove me to work on mom's vest :-)  The right side is almost done, and as soon as that is fixed just right, I know the back and left side will fall into place so to speak.  Of course, I'm going end up finishing this vest just in time for spring, but I think she wanted it for wearing around the house anyway, so with air conditioning kicking in soon, I hope it will still be useful for her.

I've got some new tips up on the site as well -- some new advanced stitches to check out!  I think I'm getting close to being able to put together a book of tips.  I really want to make it different than some of the other tip books coming out these days (I have to say, Lily Chin's new book and "The Crochet Answer Book" are excellent), so any suggestions would be most welcome.

Ok, I gotta go get ready for the day ahead -- please visit and fan my "new" Many Creative Gifts fan page, and more new news will be coming from me soon.

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 43 -- Have a glass of wine with dinner.  Mr. Pollan immediately says that it is not a magic bullet but that there is a growing body of evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol, especially red wine, have health benefits and is partially the explanation for why the French and Mediterranean diets are so considered so good for you.  Its positive effects on heart health especially are touted.  He recommends no more than 2 drinks per day for a man, 1 for a woman.  We certainly have had fun implementing this rule!  We don't do it every night because, often, we've got more things to do before bedtime, but especially those nights where we are trying to implement the Rules, a little vino with dinner does the trick!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Facebook Fan Page!

Hoorah!  I managed to get a Many Creative Gifts business fan page up and running.  Unfortunately, it was not due to the $89 webinar that I signed up for, but that was my fault, I should have signed up for the advanced class, go figure!  But, really, not to take away $$ from such webinars, etc., but there are so many free resources on the web -- if you are willing to search around (I typed in "facebook business page") and take the extra time to read through different sites and advice and piece it together, you can do it free.  In a way, I don't regret spending the $89 itself though because that's what made me actually sit down and stick with the fan page until I got it almost the way I want it; I just wish the $$ had gone to the person who actually helped me the most.  Please check out her fabulous site  She's a crafter, a small business owner, and a helpful techie!

Hee, hee, I guess now I will find out if the link between this blog and the fan page works!  I was told by tech support that, after setting up the link, all future blog posts will automatically go to FB; if I want old posts on there, I need to do it manually.  Cross your fingers!

And, please do become a fan of Many Creative Gifts!!  Just click on the widget that you'll find on the left panel.  Thanks!!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 57 -- Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.  This rule is pretty self-explanatory, but Mr. Pollan does point out that, except for milk and water, everything else in gas station "grocery" stores are highly processed snack foods and over-large soft drinks.  And, frankly, that's where they make there money, not by selling gas!  We avoid this temptation by sticking to our local gas station that just repairs cars and offers car washes, no snacks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Facebook Follies

So, tomorrow is the webinar that I signed up for that is supposed to teach me how to create a proper Facebook page for MCG.  As much as I am liking FB less and less (I mean, every time I start to get used to their changes, they go and change everything again!), all the small business marketing tips I read say that you've just got to be on Facebook.  Ok, so I will give it a try...

Other than that, it's been a quiet week in terms of getting much done that's worth reporting to you about.  I did purchase all sorts of gluten-free flours today at the organic market down the street, so I'm gearing up to try out some bread experiments.  Mom's vest continues to languish, but this weekend, I can feel a breakthrough coming (at least I'm hoping so!)

Today's Thought:  Buckwheat is not wheat!  Buckwheat groats are actually fruit seeds that are related to rhubarb and sorrel.  They are high in manganese, magnesium, and dietary fiber, which all help with lowering high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugars.  More detailed information about the health benefits of buckwheat can be found at